National MS Society commits $19.4 million to new research

January 16, 2014

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has committed another $19.4 million to support up to 38 new MS research projects. These new awards are part of a multipronged research strategy across a full spectrum aimed at stopping MS in its tracks, restoring lost function, and ending the disease forever. A portion of funds raised at events throughout Delaware is sent to the national fund to support these projects.

Through the collective efforts of all people in the MS movement, the society invested more than $48 million in 2013 alone to fund 380 research projects around the world. Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. In Delaware, MS affects more than 1,550 families.

“We strive to pursue all promising research paths and collaborate worldwide to drive progress,” says Kate Cowperthwait, president of the society’s Delaware chapter. “We are focused on three priority areas, including progressive MS, where no therapies currently exist; nervous system repair, where we’re so close to solutions that can restore function that MS has taken away; and wellness and lifestyle, where advancements can change quality of life with MS on a daily basis.”

To find the best research with the most promise, the National MS Society relies on more than 100 world-class scientists who volunteer their time to carefully evaluate hundreds of proposals every year.

The new projects include a clinical trial to test whether ibudilast, a repurposed therapy, can protect the nervous system and slow or stop progressive MS; a study to determine if dance as a form of exercise improves physical activity, walking, and balance, and lessens fatigue in people with MS; and a project examining whether potential benefits of vitamin D therapy depend on an individual gene.

There are Food and Drug Administration-approved therapies that can impact the underlying disease course in people with the more common forms of MS. However, none of these can stop progression or reverse the damage to restore function.

Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about options by talking to a healthcare professional and contacting the National MS Society at